Thursday, May 1, 2008

Eating Extravaganza Part II

So we went to Arun's Thai last Saturday and had dinner at the "Best Thai Restaurant in the Country".

There's no menu. They ask you about any food allergies, spice preferences, etc. and then proceed to bring you 12 courses (in our case, 13, but I'll get to that) of delicious.

This was our menu:

APPETIZERS (6)

Spicy crab cake set over tossed watercress salad, dressed with avocado mayonnaise; and, topped with a golden fried taro pouch.

This might have been my favorite course. What a way to start! I feel like I finally know what the judges on Iron Chef America get to experience. I found myself spouting nonsense about complex spices and "layers of flavor". It was damn tasty.

Traditional Thai spring roll filled with seasoned pork, Chinese sausage, morsels of dungeness crabmeat and bean sprouts, drizzled with sweet & sour tamarind sauce and accentuated with dab of hot mustard.

This one was really freakin' good, too. All the plating was incredible. (Tomato rose? Carrot butterfly? I'm lookin' at you.) The hot mustard was out of this world with just the right amount of sinus-clearing action.

Delicate rice dumpling filled with chicken, shrimp and Jicama; served on the bed of sweet & sour chili vinaigrette.

Yeah, so out of the 12, this was my least favorite. I'm guessing it just wasn't my cup of tea because I heard the woman at the next table saying it was her favorite dish. I just couldn't get past the gummy texture of the rice dumpling part. Still good, but compared to the rest of the meal... meh.

Golden fried jumbo prawn, served with soy-vinaigrette, and accompanied by stuffed sweet pepper (filled with mixture of tofu and kabocha squash), grilled Thai zucchini and cherry tomato.

Isn't this one beautiful? It looks so sculpted and pretty. I didn't want to eat it, but I got over that and dug right in. The soy-vinaigrette was amazing with the shrimp and the sweet pepper was tender and yummy.

Fried spare rib set over pineapple mayonnaise, topped with pineapple chip, and accompanied by sauté spinach and soy bean sprouts.

I almost licked the plate with this sucker. The spinach was, no joke, the best I've ever tasted, we even kept bugging the staff to find out how it was cooked. I don't remember much but it involved soy. The rib was also so flavorful and went perfectly with the citrusy flavors. (See? There I go getting all foodie-crazy again.)

Thai rice pasta ladled with spicy broth of minced pork, tomato, shredded pickled cabbage, bean sprouts, chopped scallion and fried shallot.

So I have a confession. This one looked really pretty when they brought it out, but in my excitement, I mixed it all up and took a few bites before I remembered to even glance at my camera. It looked so much like Tom Yum from LuLu's though, that I almost squealed when I saw it. It wasn't Tom Yum exactly, but it was similar, so I was happy.

ENTREES (4)
These were served family-style and all came out at once. I almost passed out when I saw how much food there was in front of us, but somehow managed to soldier on.

Mussaman beef in a rich coconut-curried sauce, featuring tantalizing spices and refreshing Thai herbs.

My mouth is watering just thinking about this one. I thought I knew a good thai curry. I was wrong. This was so light and rich at the same time. The beef was fork tender and still had a great, strong flavor that wasn't covered up by the curry, just amplified or something. Basically, yum. *Full Disclosure: I actually had Andy tip the bowl up so I could scoop out every last bit of the curry. I doubt they get much of that kind of behavior at a 4 star restaurant, but I was under some sort of curry hypnosis, I think.

Alaskan King crab, succulent lobster and delicate sea scallop, accompanied by a raft of white asparagus and French beans, smothered in a spicy and hot creamy Shoo-Shee sauce, featuring fragrant Thai herbs: chilies, kaffir, lemon grass and Galangal (Thai ginger).

It's on a little asparagus boat! Did ya see that? Ha! Anyway, this one was lovely as well. That shoo-shee sauce should be sold cause I would buy it by the gallon. Tasty.

Lightly fried striped bass filet graced with three-flavored chili sauce: spicy, sweet and sour; garnished with an exquisitely carved carrot fish.

I found Nemo! I wasn't even blinking at the plating at this point, I was so intent on the food, but isn't that amazing? That fish had eyes, fins and scales! This was good, as anything fried is, and I loved the chili sauce, though I've had something like it before. I was getting pretty full at this point, so my enthusiasm was turning into something more akin to determination.

Stir-fried minced chicken with crushed garlic, Thai chilies and holy basil leaves.

I'm not sure what was holy about those basil leaves, but they sure were tasty! This one was pretty spicy, so I liked it for that reason, but it couldn't hold my attention for long with that beef curry still on the table.

DESSERTS (2 normally, but 3 for us, yea!)

Thin crepe lightly pasted with Sankhaya pandanus cream custard and red beans, accompanied by poached strawberry, and drizzled with strawberry coulis.

I really, really enjoyed this dessert, even though I know it wasn't really Andy's thing. The creamy custard with the beans and the strawberry and mint made for a really interesting and surprisingly light combo. Another plate-licker for me.

A mixed sorbet of Okra blossom and lychee, accompanied by poached baby pear and dotted with sweet tangerine coulis.

This was light and nice to finish the meal, but I wasn't as wowed by the flavors. The sorbet was good, but the okra blossom made me feel like I was eating a perfumed, but tasty sno-cone. The sesame cookie and poached pear were also good, but I was worried about stomach rupturing at this point, so I nibbled more than devoured.

AND then, while we were waiting for our check and hoping to slip into sleepy food comas in the car, they brought out ANOTHER dessert since it was Andy's birthday.

It was a chocolate cake of some sort and while I'd love to tell you how it tasted, we just sort of mashed it up to make it look like we'd eaten it and tried to stand up with our 12-course-heavier bellies.

It was a good eating day all around, though I'd caution anyone against trying that more than once in a lifetime because that amount of food is serious business. Don't try this at home! (Mostly because can you imagine all the dishes you'd have to do?)

2 comments:

Andrew said...

Between Hot Doug's and Arun's, I'm guessing our daily intake from the b-day extravaganza put pre-Subway Jared to shame.

Kristin also got me guitar lessons at an acclaimed folk music school, but if we keep eating like this I won't be able to play with my fat little fingers!

Anonymous said...

I'm getting caught up on all things Kristin. This meal looks amazing!!! I'm really jealous but I plan on alleviating that by going to straight to the source. I'm thinking Thailand for Christmas this year. :-)

Also, I totally love that at the best Thai restaurant in the country you get excited that the soup looks like the Tom Yum from Lulu's. I don't know if Sam would be appalled or proud.

Love ya!
Jenny